Cleaning at Home and at Work in Relation to Lung Function Decline and Airway Obstruction

Rationale: Cleaning tasks may imply exposure to chemical agents with potential harmful effects to the respiratory system, and increased risk of asthma and respiratory symptoms among professional cleaners and in persons cleaning at home has been reported. The long-term consequences of cleaning agents on respiratory health are, however, not well described. Objectives: This paper aims to investigate long-term effects of occupational cleaning and cleaning at home on lung function decline and chronic airway obstruction. Methods: The ECRHS study has investigated a multi-centre population based cohort at three time points over twenty years. 6230 participants with at least one lung function measurements from 22 study centres, who in ECRHS II responded to questionnaire modules concerning cleaning activities between ECRHS I and ECRHS II were included. The data were analysed with mixed linear models adjusting for potential confounders. Main results: As compared to women not engaged in cleaning (FEV1=-18.5 ml/year), FEV1 declined more rapidly in women responsible for cleaning at home (-22.1, p=0.01) and occupational cleaners (-22.4, p=0.03). The same was found for decline in FVC (FVC-=8.8 ml/year; -13.1, p=0.02 and -15.9, p=0.002, respectively). Both cleaning sprays and other cleaning agents were associated with accelerated FEV1 decline (-22.0, p=0.04 and -22.9, p=0.004, respectively). Cleaning was not significantly associated with lung function decline in men or with chronic airway obstruction. Conclusions: Women cleaning at home or working as occupational cleaners had accelerated decline in lung function, suggesting that exposures related to cleaning activities may constitute a risk to long-term respiratory health.

Source: Svanes, Ø., Bertelsen, R. J., Lygre, S. H., Carsin, A. E., Antó, J. M., Forsberg, B., ... Kogevinas, M. (2018). American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine.
https://doi.org/10.1164/rccm.201706-1311OC 

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